It isn’t easy being an Australian gamer. Not only are games released in that country months after their initial release on the Western side of the world, but the ratings system is in serious need of a rework. The sale of mature-rated games to minors has been a hot button topic in the country for quite some time now, and doesn’t look to be dying down any time soon. And while the retirement of the subject’s most outspoken figure Michael Atkinson originally meant a step in the right direction, it looks as though two steps back could be next.
The federal government of Australia has told the Standing Committee of Attorneys General to come up with a plan to properly bring mature games to their country. After threatening to pursue “other options” if they would not, the group will be meeting later in the month to discuss the matter.
While the topic of the meeting is the creation of an R18+ rating for their system, South Australia looks to be throwing a wrench into the works, as they say they will not only use the R18+, but eliminate the MA15+ rating in the process as well, regardless of the outcome of the meeting.
What this effectively means is that games in South Australia will be divided into two categories: one for kids, and one for adults. That also means that if a game gets a rating of MA15+ or its equivalent in another country, it will most likely be moved up to R18+ in Australia. While this does keep the games out of the hands of underage gamers, it also means that a coherent ratings system for the country will be near impossible.
And let’s not forget how much more difficult it will make things for Australian retailers. If a schism is the result of breakdowns in discussion, it could mean that R18+ rated games won’t receive the proper advertising, and mainstream gamers will have a harder time keeping an eye on release dates.
It would also do even more to encourage fans to get their games via import or download, damaging the retail gaming business in Australia even further. With the Standing Committee meeting on July 22, Australian gamers can only hope that this will all get sorted out sooner rather than later.
What do you think is the proper solution for the Australian government? Is there a way to make both gamers and concerned parents happy? Leave us your opinions in the comments.
Source: The Escapist